Nutritional supplements help us maintain optimum health, along with a good diet, daily exercise, avoiding stress, and getting a good night’s sleep. There is growing evidence that nutritional supplements — vitamins, minerals, amino acids, fatty acid nutrients, herbal and botanical products, and various other natural compounds like coenzyme Q10 and alpha lipoic acid — have specific health benefits. Taken in the right doses these unpatentable natural medicinal products (i.e., nutraceuticals) can prevent cancer, heart disease, neurodegenerative diseases, and, among other things, prevent loss of vision from macular degeneration and cataracts.
These are the supplements that I take, along with their doses and a brief explanation of each one’s benefits:
- Vitamin D3 — 5,000 IU/day
Called the "master key to optimum health," vitamin D controls the expression of more than 1,000 genes throughout the body, notably in the immune system, in endothelial cells lining blood vessels, pancreatic beta cells, and brain neurons. Genes that vitamin D express prevent influenza and treat tuberculosis, strengthen muscles, prevent common cancers (and possibly suppress metastasizes), and prevent autoimmune diseases. Vitamin D also expresses genes that blunt the immune system—mediated inflammatory response that propagates atherosclerosis and congestive heart failure. For most people the dose needed to reach an optimal vitamin D blood level (25-hydroxyvitamin D) of 50 ng/ml is 5,000 IU/day, ten times the government’s recommended dietary allowance (RDA). People with cancer, chronic illness, and neurodegenerative diseases should take sufficient vitamin D to attain a level of 80 ng/ml (which requires 8,000—10,000 IU/day). See my article "Vitamin D in a New Light."
- Iodine — 12.5 mg/day (two drops of 5% Lugol’s solution or one Iodoral tablet)
Iodine taken in doses 100 times the RDA (100—150 micrograms/day) has important extrathyroidal benefits. These include its role as an antioxidant, in preventing and treating fibrocystic disease of the breast, and in preventing and treating cancer. In the right dose, iodine helps keep the immune system healthy, and it provides antiseptic mucosal defense in the mouth, stomach, and vagina. People who take iodine in milligram doses say that they feel healthier, have a sense of well being and increased energy. See my article "Iodine for Health."
- Selenium — 200 mcg/day, as selenomethionine
Bound to cysteine in place of sulfur and called the "21st amino acid," selenocysteine is the active site in some 35 proteins. Glutathione peroxidase, which contains four selenium atoms, plays a major role in free radical defense. Plasma selenoprotein P protects endothelial cells against damage, and epithelial selenoprotein protects prostratic secretory cells from developing carcinoma. People deficient in selenium have an increased risk of cancer. Selenium prevents cancer through a variety of mechanisms, which include antioxidant protection, enhanced immune surveillance, suppression of angiogenesis, regulation of cell proliferation, enhancement of apoptosis (cell death), and inhibition of tumor cell invasion. See my article on selenium titled "The Moon Goddess’ Role in Human Health."
- Vitamin K2 — 90 mcg/day, as menaquinone-7
Vitamin K comes in two basic forms, K1 and K2. K1 is a cofactor for blood coagulation. K2 activates osteocalcin, a protein secreted by osteoblasts that plays a role bone mineralization and calcium ion hemostasis. Calcium deposits in the walls of blood vessels play an active role in the formation of atherosclerosis. K2 activates a protein called matrix Gla (carboxyglutamic acid) protein. It carboxylates the glutamate residues in matrix Gla protein, which enables it to bind and remove calcium from blood vessels and thus prevent the formation of atherosclerotic calcific plaques. Vitamins D and K2 work together in this regard because vitamin D expresses the gene that makes matrix Gla protein. Menaquinone-7, the natural form of vitamin K2, is better than synthetic menaquinone-4, the more widely marketed form of vitamin K2.